The Invention of the Color Line: 1691

Essays on the Color Line and the One-Drop Rule
by Frank W Sweet
January 1, 2005

I

n 1653 Virginia, one of Anthony Johnson’s involuntary African laborers, a man named John Casor, claimed his freedom because his term of indenture had allegedly expired seven years before. He fled his master’s plantation and took refuge with a nearby farmer, Captain Gouldsmith. Johnson insisted that his runaway laborer was not indentured, but was a lifelong slave and demanded the African’s return. Not wanting to become embroiled in a legal fight with a powerful plantation owner, Gouldsmith turned the worker over to another wealthy planter, Robert Parker. Parker took the worker’s side in the dispute, kept him on his own plantation’s workforce, and argued on his behalf in court. The case dragged on for two years, with Johnson at one point agreeing to manumit Casor, but then reneging on the settlement. On March 8, 1655, the Northampton County Court ruled that Casor had been a slave all along, ordered that the worker be returned immediately to Anthony Johnson, and ordered Robert Parker to pay damages for sheltering the runaway for two years, as well as court costs. A few years later, Parker abandoned his career as a Virginia planter and returned to England. Twenty years later, Casor was still owned by Mary Johnson—Anthony Johnson’s widow. What is important about this tale is that Anthony Johnson was also African. His plantation, from whence Casor fled, was named “Angola,” and it exploited European forced laborers as well as Africans.1

* * * * *

This essay explains, in three topics, when, where, and how America’s endogamous color line was invented. The Years Before the Color Line was Invented describes colonial life before the turn of the eighteenth century. It shows that colonists of African and European ancestries mingled and married within each of the three rigid social classes: forced laborers, shopkeepers/artisans, and planters. The Transition Period narrates events in and around the Chesapeake leading up to the 1691 law, the first in history to outlaw Afro-European intermarriage. The Spread of the New Color Line describes the aftermath as punishments for violating the 1691 law became increasingly harsher, and similar laws were passed in subsequent generations throughout British North America.

The Years Before the Color Line was Invented

African-American colonists arrived in Virginia in August of 1619. Most came as indentured servants (or slaves; the two labor systems had not yet diverged). They were under no initial implication of “racial” inferiority. The endogamous color line had not yet been invented. They soon permeated all three socio-economic classes. “They accumulated land, voted, testified in court, and mingled with whites on a basis of equality.”2 Some remained slaves (or indentured servants). Forced laborers both Afro- and Euro-American, ran away together, attempted servile insurrections together, and jointly complained about both the greed of the bourgeois and the cruelty of the aristocracy.3

Others became artisans and shopkeepers as well as professional lawyers, physicians, or skilled farmers who contributed to colonial life. According to the governor, in 1648, African-American colonists recommended rice planting because conditions in the Chesapeake were favorable to that crop. This middle class, both Afro- and Euro-American, complained about the laziness and dishonesty of their slaves and of taxes imposed by rapacious aristocrats.4

Still others became aristocrats. Slave importing was the route to social status. In 1651, Anthony Johnson earned 250 acres for importing five slaves (we do not know their land of origin). Richard Johnson, Anthony’s father, received 100 acres for importing two slaves (of unknown complexion). John Johnson, Richard’s brother, did better, winning 550 acres for bringing in eleven slaves (again, we do not know how many were African or European). Benjamin Dole received 300 acres for importing six slaves into Surry County. All of these men owned tidewater plantations and left large estates. They were established members of the ruling class.

Northampton County, Virginia, was typical of the early colonial economy. In 1666, about 300 of Virginia’s colonists were of African ancestry, like the Johnsons. At that time, 11 percent of African colonists and 18 percent of European colonists owned either land or slaves.5 This is analogous to a 61 percent ratio of Black-to-White net worth—higher than the United States would ever see again in its history. For comparison, two centuries later in 1860, the county’s Black-to-White property ownership ratio was zero percent.6 By 1980, the overall U.S. Black-to-White net-worth ratio had risen to 15.4 percent, but by 1995 it had fallen again to 12.6 percent.7

Intermarriage was common. Visitors reported that the colony “swarms with mulatto children, and these mulattoes, if but three generations removed from the black father or mother [are accepted as White].”8 Among prominent interracial marriages were those of European attorney William Greensted and his biracial wife Elizabeth Kay, African slaveowner Francis Payne and his European wife Amy, European Francis Skipper and his African wife Ann Cocore, African James Tate and his European wife Hester, and African Phillip Mognum and his European wife Mary Morris.9 Then attitudes began to change.

The Transition Period

At first, the changes seemed to have little to do with establishing an endogamous color line. In 1630 Jamestown, Hugh Davis was ordered to be “soundly whipt before an assembly of negroes for abusing himself to the dishonor of God and the shame of Christianity by defiling his body in lying with a negro.” As many scholars have pointed out, the unfortunate Mr. Davis was caught “lying with a negro,” not “lying with a negress,” and so his offense was more likely to have been homosexuality rather than crossing the color line.10 Still, it is possible that this may have been the first legal document in British North America to disapprove of intimate contact between people of African and European ancestry.

Ten years later, in 1640 Jamestown, European Robert Sweat was ordered to “do penance in church according to the laws of England,” for impregnating an African female. The woman was ordered whipped.11 Apparently, the couple would not have been punished had they been married. But the point is that she was whipped, while he merely “did penance.” At first glance, this seems to reflect “racial” inequality—the African was punished, not the European. If so, this would make it the first documented instance of “racial” inequality in British North America. But it more likely reflected gender inequality instead. The Puritans were coming to power under Oliver Cromwell at the time, and Puritan theology held that women were morally weak and tools of Satan. The colonial leaders may have felt that the pregnant woman had seduced the man. A case nine years later, in 1649 Jamestown, supports the latter interpretation. William Watts (European) and Mary (African) were both ordered to do penance for fornication.12 Their punishment was equal and nothing suggests that they would have been punished had they been married. If a sense of inequality across an embryonic color line was emerging, it was emerging slowly and haltingly.

In 1662, Virginia passed two laws of interest. The first increased the penalty for interracial fornication:

if any Christian shall committ ffornication with a negro man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the ffines imposed by the former act [500 pounds of tobacco].13

This act did not legalize fornication between two Europeans or between two Africans; it merely made the penalty more severe if the parties were of different continental ancestry. Although it did not address intermarriage, it is historically important because it is the first law in British North America that made interracial sex more reprehensible than sex between those of the same ancestry.

The second Virginia law of 1662 established the doctrine of partus sequitur ventrem, that the free/slave status of a child was solely determined by the free/slave status of the mother:14

Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or free, be it therefore enacted and declared by the present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother….15

The new law held that neither your continent of ancestry, skin-tone, nor patrilineal descent had any effect on whether you were a slave. The law brought Virginia into line with Iberian laws that had been in effect since 1265.16 Over the next few decades, identical laws would be adopted throughout the British colonies. They would remain in effect until U.S. slavery ended over two centuries later. The new partus sequitur ventrem law had four long-term consequences. First, it set a psychological basis for popular culture’s seeing slaves as less than fully human. Prior British common law had held that social status passed through the father; only livestock ownership had been matrilineal. Second, it enabled the emergence of a large population of legitimately freeborn Americans of mixed Afro-European ancestry who had no connection to slavery within living memory. Third, it meant that tens of thousands of future slaves would be genetically European, due to European alleles from fathers gradually replacing African alleles from mothers, through random DNA mixing (meiosis) at each generation.17 Within two centuries, this would lead to such runaway slave advertisements as, “A beautiful girl, about twenty years of age, perfectly white, with straight light hair and blue eyes.” — 1847 Hannibal MO.18 Finally, the new law launched a 143-year period in U.S. history when slavery had no legal connection to continent of ancestry. If your mother was a slave, you were a slave, even if you were European. If your mother was free, then you were free, even if you were African. As explained in the essay, How the Law Decided if You Were Black or White: The Early 1800s, this period ended with the court case, Hudgins v. Wrights, 1806 Virginia.

Three years later, Maryland passed a 1664 law punishing free women who married slaves. Offenders would themselves be enslaved for their husband’s lifetime, and their children would be hereditary slaves from birth:19

For deterring such free borne women from such shamefull Matches… whatsoever free borne woman shall inter marry with any slave… shall Serve the master of such slave dureing the life of her husband And that all the issue of such freeborne woemen soe marryed shall be Slaves as their fathers were.20

Although this law is often cited as the first prohibition of Black/White intermarriage in British North America,21 it makes no mention of “race” or continent of ancestry. A careful reading shows something quite different. It punished inter-class marriages. It did not prohibit free Europeans from marrying free Africans, nor did it forbid forced-laborer Europeans from marrying forced-laborer Africans. It forbade only marriages between free women (of any ancestry) and slaves (of any ancestry).

Early in 1681, Lord Baltimore returned to Maryland from a four-year sojourn in England. He was displeased to learn of the evils resulting from the 1664 law that had enslaved the offspring of free women and slave men. They were brought to Lord Baltimore’s attention by his house servant, Eleanor Butler, better known as “Irish Nell.”22 The law had created three problems:

First, it conflicted with the 1662 Virginia partus sequitur ventrem law that assigned the status of the mother to children of mixed marriages. The legal incompatibility had inspired mass flight between the two colonies. Interracial families headed by African men and European women fled from Maryland to Virginia, while those headed by African women and European men ran away from Virginia to Maryland. The second problem was that some Maryland planters, with a view towards breeding additional human assets, were exploiting the law by deliberately “purchasing white women” and forcing them to wed African men.23 But worst of all, according to Irish Nell, was that she herself had married Charles, one of Lord Baltimore’s slaves, and so her own future children were now doomed to slavery.

In December of 1681, Lord Baltimore, with Irish Nell’s help, induced the Maryland legislature to revoke their peculiar 1664 law and adopt Virginia’s system instead. In the same session, Maryland also made it illegal for masters to order European female servants to marry African male slaves against their will.24 Nevertheless, for seventeen years Maryland and Virginia had enforced contradictory laws regarding the heredity of slave status. The ensuing confusion spawned a series of lawsuits that continued even after independence a century later, as individuals tried to prove that they were not hereditary slaves, and masters tried to prove that they were, based on matrilineal or patrilineal ancestry.

Finally in 1691, the Virginia colony passed and enforced the first law on earth against voluntary marriage between free individuals of predominantly European and free individuals of predominantly African ancestry.25 At first, the law was weak. It punished interracial couples by banishing them from the colony. It did not punish the ministers who married them, nor did it punish their children. Within years, however, punishments became increasingly harsh for anyone complicit in a crime of intermarriage, up to and including death by torture.26 Dozens of interracial families (including the descendants of Anthony Johnson) fled from Virginia to Maryland. Such innovative legislation had never happened before in world history. It would never happen independently again. But it happened this once, and once was enough.

The Spread of the New Color Line

The following year, in 1692, Maryland also outlawed intermarriage, virtually copying the 1691 Virginia law.27 Dozens of interracial families, among them those who had fled from Virginia, now fled from Maryland to Pennsylvania.

Four years later, in 1696, Virginia’s rulers made their anti-intermarriage law harsher. Apparently, the colonists were not taking the law seriously enough. The 1696 change added the offending minister as complicit in the crime of intermarriage. After this change, interracial married couples would be banished, as before, but now the minister who married them would be fined 10,000 pounds of tobacco.28 Since this amount was far beyond the reach of even some landed gentry, it meant the minister’s defrocking. In addition, the new law explicitly ordered ministers to preach against intermarriage. Priests who refused to comply were also defrocked and replaced. How the landed gentry acquired the church authority to appoint and fire priests and bishops will be explained momentarily.

Over the next few decades, penalties became increasingly cruel. According to one historian, a horror of intermarriage was planted in the minds of the colonists:

by the creation of a total system of domination, a system that penetrated every corner of Colonial life and made use of every Colonial institution. Nothing was left to chance. The assemblies, the courts, the churches, and the press were thrown into the breach. A massive propaganda campaign confused and demoralized the public, and private vigilante groups supplemented the official campaign of hate and terror.29

Ministers were ordered to read decrees that not only forbade intermarriage, but that also referred to Africans in dehumanizing terms. Even Winthrop Jordan, a highly respected historian who believes that hatred of the “negro race” is an inborn instinct of the “white race” that goes back thousands of years, admits that the Virginia laws outlawing intermarriage were aimed at freeborn colonists, not at Black slaves:

While the colonial slave codes seem at first sight to have been intended to discipline Negroes, to deny them freedoms available to other Americans, a very slight shift in perspective shows the codes in a different light; they were aimed, paradoxically, at disciplining white men. Principally, the law told the white man, not the Negro, what he must do; the codes were for the eyes and ears of slaveowners…. Members of the assemblies, most of whom owned slaves, were attempting to enforce slave-discipline by the only means available, by forcing owners, individually and collectively, to exercise it.30

No endogamous barrier is perfect, however, and America’s new color line leaked. Despite the threat of law, the preaching of religious leaders, and the pressure of social peers, people of mixed heritage continued to be born. Conventional wisdom holds that such mixing was the result of European male slaveowners raping or at least economically coercing female slaves. In fact, although colonial interracial mating was somewhat asymmetrical, it was not all that one-sided. Many Americans today carry mitochondrial DNA of matrilineal European descent and Y chromosomes of patrilineal African ancestry.31 Nevertheless, whether the continued production of biracial children was the result of African males joining with European females or vice-versa, colonists of every intermediate gradation continued to be born during the eighteenth century. Multiracial colonists had no legal existence then, just as multiracial Americans have no legal existence today. Mixed-ancestry individuals, then as now, had to be legislated out of existence. And so, for the first time, Americans faced a problem that remains unsolved and plagues the nation to this day: how to decide to which side of the color line to assign someone?

In 1705, Virginia passed the first law in history defining who was considered a member of the Black endogamous group. The law used a one-eighth blood-fraction rule; You belonged on the Black side of the color line if you had one or more great-grandparents who had belonged on the Black side of the color line. In addition, the fine for ministers performing interracial marriages was increased even farther beyond reach.32 This law was the first instance in history of legalized hypodescent.33

Punishment of intermarriage became ever harsher. In 1715, Maryland and Virginia condemned women who married across the color line to seven years of bondage, and their mixed children to thirty-one years of bondage.34 One historian counted 367 court cases in this period punishing women alone. Of these, 140 identified the male partner: 89 cases punished White females for consorting with African-American males; 9 cases punished African-American females for consorting with White males.35

In 1705, Massachusetts outlawed interracial marriage. Other British colonies followed: North Carolina outlawed interracial marriage in 1715. Delaware outlawed interracial marriage in 1721. Pennsylvania outlawed interracial marriage in 1725.36 Dozens of interracial families, among them those who had fled from Maryland, now fled from Pennsylvania to New York, apparently seeding the maroon community knows as the Jackson Whites.37 Fear/hatred of intermarriage spread throughout British North America until, by 1776, 12 of the 13 colonies that declared their independence legally enforced endogamous color lines.

Oddly, the idea of a forcibly endogamous color line did not jump the Atlantic to Europe. Throughout the 1600s, the New World was all the rage in Europe. Women’s fashions aped the feathers and fringes of Native American dress. Tobacco became the most lucrative crop ever known, as smoking swept the Old World. New foods like tomatoes, potatoes, corn, lima beans, were served in the best homes in Europe. The old languages absorbed new words like hurricane and tomahawk. Previously unknown creatures, like opossums, raccoons, and turkeys filled the zoos. Shakespeare’s plays abound with references to the mysterious and fascinating New World. Novels and stage musicals were set in the exotic “Indies.” And yet, Europeans never seemed to grasp the colonial notion that Afro-European intermarriage was to be prevented.

image001.jpg

Queen Charlotte

England’s highest social level welcomed Afro-European intermarriage as late as 1761. According to PBS Frontline historian Mario Valdes y Cocom, King George III’s wife of more than 50 years, Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whom he wed in that year, was openly biracial, a dark noblewoman descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, of the Afro-European branch of the Portuguese Royal House. Her biracial features are clear in contemporary portraits, the most famous being the one by Sir Allan Ramsay. Two centuries later, according to Valdes y Cocom, during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, the Royal Household referred to the present queen’s African bloodline (through her ancestor, Queen Charlotte) in a white paper it published defending her position as head of the Commonwealth.38 The point, of course, is not whether Queen Charlotte actually had recent African ancestry. (As explained in the essay Afro-European Genetic Admixture in the United States, millions of people unknowingly do.) It is that such a possibility was once welcomed and not seen as disgraceful.

image003.jpg

Dido Lindsey

Similarly, Dido Lindsey was a family member in the household of William Murray, first Earl of Mansfield and Speaker of the House of Lords. She was the biracial daughter of Mansfield’s nephew, Rear Admiral Sir John Lindsey, and an African-born woman that the naval officer met in Cuba. Dido appears in several contemporary paintings, the most famous being one by Zoffany, the court painter to the royal family, for whom Queen Charlotte sat on a number of occasions.39

Incidentally, Lord Mansfield was the man who ended slavery in England when, as Chief Justice of the King’s Supreme Court in 1773, he ruled it unconstitutional. His ruling that:

the air of England is too pure for a slave to breathe, and so everyone who breathes it becomes free. Everyone who comes to this island is entitled to the protection of English law, whatever oppression he may have suffered and whatever may be the colour of his skin

image006.jpg

Lord Mansfield

meant that thenceforth, any slave would become free the instant he or she set foot on English soil. Lord Mansfield’s words are still memorized by British schoolchildren today. William Cowper (1731-1800) made a poem out of this ruling:

Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment, they are free!
They touch our country and their shackles fall.

To be sure, this was the same period when the idea of “racial” African inferiority spread among Enlightenment thinkers. We can trace its spread during these years. Hobbes (1650, 1651) never used the word “race” in the modern sense. To Locke (1690), our species has different “stocks” of equal merit. The first scholarly work identifying Africans as somehow unworthy is the first volume of Natural History by George Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1749).40 Immanuel Kant (1775) solidified what became the nineteenth century concept of “degenerate” sub-human Africans.41 Finally, Blumenbach (1791) (who invented the term later used to denote white folks, based on the most beautiful skull in his collection—one from the Caucasus mountains) was the first European to speak of different “races” in the modern sense.42 But none of this relates directly to the social enforcement of a compulsorily endogamous color line. That particular innovation was unique to British North America three centuries ago, and remains so to this day.

* * * * *

This essay explained when, where, and how America’s endogamous color line was invented. It showed that through most of the seventeenth century, colonists of African and European ancestries intermingled and intermarried within all three social classes. It showed that, although there may have been early hints that Americans were becoming conscious of “racial” differences in the 1670s, the law of 1691 outlawing intermarriage struck like a thunderclap and drove refugees fleeing from colony to colony. The outlawing of intermarriage never spread to Europe, and so the U.S. endogamous color line remains unique.

Click here for an animated YouTube version of this topic, part 1.

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Click here for an animated YouTube version of this topic, part 3.


1 T. H. Breen and Stephen Innes, “Myne owne ground”: Race and Freedom on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, 1640-1676 (New York: Oxford University, 1980), 13-17, 19. Incidentally, there is evidence that Casor may have been manumitted after the Johnson’s moved from Virginia to Maryland.2 Lerone Bennett Jr., The Shaping of Black America(Chicago: Johnson, 1975) 17-19.

3 Bennett (1975) 61-80; Edmund Sears Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: Norton, 1975) 155.

4 Lerone Bennett Jr., Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 6th rev. ed. (New York: Penguin, 1993) 35-6.

5 Theodore Allen, The Invention of the White Race, 2 vols. (London: Verso, 1994) 2:182-5.

6 Ibid., 2:185.

7 Andrew Hacker, Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal (New York: Ballantine, 1995), 108.

8 Ann Maury, Memoirs of a Huguenot Family (New York, 1872) as quoted in James Hugo Johnston, Race Relations in Virginia & Miscegenation in the South, 1776-1860 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1970), 170.

9 Edmund Sears Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: Norton, 1975), 334; Theodore Allen, The Invention of the White Race, 2 vols. (London: Verso, 1994), 2:181-2.

10 1 Laws of Virginia 146; Werner Sollors, Neither Black Nor White Yet Both (Cambridge: Harvard university, 1997), 395; Leon A. Higginbotham, Jr. and Barbara K. Kopytoff, “Racial Purity and Interracial Sex in the Law of Colonial and Antebellum Virginia,” Georgetown Law Journal 77, no. 6 (1989): 1967-2029; Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1968), 78; Edmund Sears Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: Norton, 1975), 333.

11 1 Laws of Virginia 552.

12 Werner Sollors, Neither Black Nor White Yet Both (Cambridge: Harvard university, 1997), 395.

13 Ibid., 395-6.

14 “The offspring follows the mother; the brood of an animal belongs to the owner of the dam; the offspring of a slave belongs to the owner of the mother, or follows the condition of the mother. A maxim of the civil law, which has been adopted in the law of England in regard to animals, though never allowed in the case of human beings, 2 Bl. Comm. 390, 94; Fortes. 42.” Black’s Law Dictionary, 3d ed, (West Publishing, 1933). See also background and explanation in Paul Finkelman, “The Crime of Color,” Tulane Law Review 67, no. 6 (1992): 2063-2112, 2085.

15 William Waller Hening, The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature in the Year 1619 (Richmond [Va.]: Printed by and for Samuel Pleasants Junior printer to the Commonwealth, 1809), 2:170; Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender Race and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1996), 132; Paul Finkelman, “The Crime of Color,” Tulane Law Review 67, no. 6 (1992): 2063-2112, 2082-3.

16 Las Siete Partidas del Rey Alfonso X (1265).

17 See the detailed explanation under topic “The Percentage Rate Has Remained Relatively Steady over the Years” in the essay, The Rate of Black-to-White “Passing.”

18 For this and many similar advertisements for runaways, see Lawrence Raymond Tenzer, The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War: A New Look at the Slavery Issue (Manahawkin NJ: Scholars’ Pub. House, 1997), 32.

19 Ibid., 395-96.

20 Helen Tunnicliff Catterall and James J. Hayden, Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and The Negro (New York, 1968), 4:2.

21 See, for example, Ruth Frankenberg, White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness (Minneapolis, 1993), 72.

22 Joel Williamson, New People: Miscegenation and Mulattoes in the United States (New York, 1980), 10.

23 The quote is from Helen Tunnicliff Catterall and James J. Hayden, Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and The Negro (New York: Octagon Books, 1968), 4:2. For a specific case, see Butler v. Boarman, 1770 Maryland (1 H. & McH. 371). For the complete story of Irish Nell, Charles, and their descendants see Martha Elizabeth Hodes, White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South (New Haven: Yale University, 1997), 19-38.

24 Werner Sollors, Neither Black Nor White Yet Both (Cambridge: Harvard university, 1997), 396; Helen Tunnicliff Catterall and James J. Hayden, Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and The Negro (New York: Octagon Books, 1968), 4:2.

25 3 Laws of Virginia 86, 87.

26 Lerone Bennett Jr., The Shaping of Black America (Chicago: Johnson, 1975), 74-75.

27 Acts of Maryland 76.

28 3 Laws of Virginia 252, 453.

29 Bennett (1975), 71. For corroboration, see Theodore Allen, The Invention of the White Race, 2 vols. (London: Verso, 1994), 1:21.

30 Winthrop D. Jordan, The White Man’s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States (New York: Oxford University, 1974), 61.

31 Esteban J. Parra and others, “Estimating African American Admixture Proportions by Use of Population-Specific Alleles,” American Journal of Human Genetics 63 (1998): 1839-51. Also, for an outstanding historical account of sex-symmetrical miscegenation common in colonial and early antebellum America, in contrast to the conventional tale of White male exploitation of Black females, see Martha Elizabeth Hodes, White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South (New Haven: Yale University, 1997).

32 Paul Finkelman, “The Crime of Color,” Tulane Law Review 67, no. 6 (1992): 2063-2112, 2085-86, 2106.

33 See the topic “Hypodescent” in the essay, Features of the Endogamous Color Line for an explanation of this term coined by Marvin Harris.

34 3 H. & McH. 504.

35 Theodore Allen, The Invention of the White Race, 2 vols. (London: Verso, 1994) 2:158-9, 328.

36 Werner Sollors, Neither Black Nor White Yet Both (Cambridge: Harvard university, 1997), 396-97.

37 David Steven Cohen, The Ramapo Mountain People (New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University, 1974).

38 University of Chicago, ed. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15 ed. (Chicago: William Benton, 1974) 7:1125; see also web page www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/royalfamily.html. Incidentally, despite the PBS Frontline documentary, the present author has been unable to confirm that such a white paper was actually published. As of September 2, 2004, the Royal Archivist at Windsor Castle was unable to find any record of it.

39 Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440-1870 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997) 471.

40 Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America, New ed. (New York: Oxford University, 1997) 35.

41 See Kant’s On the Different Races of Men pp. 160-4 as quoted in Ivan Hannaford, Race: The History of an Idea in the West (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1996) 218-22.

42 Ivan Hannaford, Race: The History of an Idea in the West (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1996); Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America, New ed. (New York: Oxford University, 1997); Audrey Smedley, Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview, 2nd ed. (Boulder: Westview, 1999), 27.

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Frank W. Sweet is the author of Legal History of the Color Line (ISBN 9780939479238), an analysis of the nearly 300 appealed cases that determined Americans’ “racial” identity over the centuries. It is the most thorough study of the legal history of this topic yet published. He was accepted to Ph.D. candidacy in history with a minor in molecular anthropology at the University of Florida in 2003 and has completed all but his dissertation defense. He earned an M.A. in History from American Military University in 2001. He is also the author of several state park historical booklets and published historical essays. He was a member of the editorial board of the magazine Interracial Voice, and is a regular lecturer and panelist at historical and genealogical conferences. To send email, click here.


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